Monday, April 11, 2011

Remembering Lauri Klobas

This week marks a year since my friend, Lauri Klobas, author and gifted critter, passed away after her third battle with breast cancer.

Lauri and I had known each other only on the Compuserve Books & Writers Forum when she graciously and unexpectedly volunteered to have a look at my historical novel, Kindred (which at the time was just under 300,000 words long), to see if she could help me edit it down, the challenge of which I'd posted about among the writers on the forum, probably many times. 

I've been reading through some of our saved correspondence from back in late 2007-08, the months that my writing life was totally consumed with editing Kindred to a length that an agent or editor would consider looking at. I've gleaned a few snippets of writing wisdom from Lauri that I'll be posting on the blog this week. For today, I'd like to share again my memorial for Lauri, originally posted April 16, 2010:
__________________________________
A very special friend passed away early yesterday morning after her third battle with cancer.

I met Lauri Klobas several years ago on the Books & Writers Forum, a place I've mentioned in previous posts. Lauri and I shared a love of animals (kitties for her, dogs for me), and we often crossed paths on the many pet-related forum threads, not to mention all the writing craft threads that were generated over the years. Lauri also wrote wonderful Letters From Home detailing her work as a teleprompter for NFL, and her past work behind the scenes on many television shows, and her interaction with the "stars" of Hollywood, many of them hilarious, some of them eye-opening, some truly head-shaking.

Over time we began to be aware of the book projects each other was working on, and about two years ago I received an email from Lauri offering to help me edit my extremely long historical novel, Kindred. I hadn't yet encountered Lauri's editing skills for myself, but I knew she was an encouraging soul--she'd headed the monthly Goals thread, where writers state their goals at the start of the month, give a mid-month check in, and an end-of-the-month report. Lauri, during her stint, was always there with the virtual confetti ready to throw for successes and encouraging words for those who hadn't met their goals.

But that would prove no comparison to the effort she made in editing my novel. I wanted her to be ruthless. I know it's hard to be so with another writer's work, especially if that writer is a friend. But Lauri did it. She made that manuscript bleed red, and she did it with gentle humor and encouragement. I'm not sure she ever quite believed how ecstatic I was to get a few chapters back from her and see how much she felt could be excised without diminishing the story I wanted to tell, or the characters I wanted to breathe life into. I learned to trust her instincts, and often cut more than she suggested, because, in spite of my ingrained wordy ways, I was learning to edit.

More than as my first editor, I will miss her as the tenderhearted rescuer of "problem" kitties, as the proud owner of her first home, as a lively, optimistic presence on the forum even while she struggled with her own failing health, as a person who was truly engaged with the world around her and genuinely interested in how the rest of us were getting along with things. As a true cheerleader. As my friend.

These are Lauri's last words to me, in response to the news that I had signed with an agent with Kindred. They were written at the end of March after she left her home and moved to be near family and friends for her final weeks. They so perfectly epitomizes who she was to me:

I have been waiting for this letter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yippee. I would type longly and effusively, but I am having trouble with my typing!
Boy, l am I proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
XOXO
LEK
I will miss you, Lauri. I am not the same because of you. Thank you so very much.

8 comments:

  1. I was thinking of Lauri yesterday. What a lovely tribute you've written Lori.

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  2. Not half what she deserved! :)

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  3. She sounds like a wonderful, encouraging friend. Your life was richer for knowing her, Lori. Thanks for sharing this inspiring tribute with your blog readers.

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  4. Lauri sounds like a special friend who will always have a place in your heart. How wonderful to have that last precious note from her.

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  5. Lori, I can't believe it's been a year. I miss her. I went back just now and read her last email to me. It was a long one, talking about her health, how tired she was, the Forumite manuscripts she had edited, moving up to her mother's house, losing her hair, how she'd just turned 55 but didn't think she'd live long enough to become a true senior citizen...

    It hurt my heart, then and now.

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  6. And she stayed so positive and upbeat, even when I knew she wasn't feeling so. She'll always be an example of grace to me.

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  7. Anonymous8:22 PM

    My amazing sister-in-law Lauri--I think of her almost every day and wish she were still here.

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    Replies
    1. Every time I have a new writing milestone, I wish I could share it with her.

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